Friday, October 1, 2010

Maker Faire NY! Rocket Yarnbomb!

NY Hall of Science & Unisphere.
Last Saturday I spent the afternoon teaching knitting at the TNNA Stitch Zone. For the first time ever Maker Faire came to NY, hosted at the NY Hall of Science in Queens, on the site of the 19964-65 World’s Fair. It was a great 21st Century event with people making everything from the practical to the ridiculous. Surrounded by commemorations of the beginning of the Space Age, Maker Faire got back down to Earth, with contributions from the Madagascar Institute, Steampunk creations, a Technology Tent, a Craft Tent and sundry Makers such as a pottery wheel made out of a lawnmower and its very own Yarn Bomb.

Just outside the Craft Tent, the Stitch Zone was stocked up with yarn, knitting and crochet needles, needlepoint and cross-stitch kits and an ever shifting group of volunteers armed and ready to teach needle crafts to the uninitiated. When I arrived, there were a few people teaching, and I picked up some good pointers watching them. There was a mid-day lull, and it was a convivial bunch so for a while it felt like the first meeting of a knitting group where no one knows each other yet. Soon enough curious fairgoers, as well as makers from other areas, began wandering in, eyeing that big pile of yarn and wondering if they could play with some of it. We tried not to pounce on them, and eventually everyone got to do some teaching.

One woman was naturally inclined to hold the yarn in her left hand, so I showed her Continental knitting which gave her a better way to hold the yarn in the hand she was already using.  I’ve tried to show right handed people this way to knit, but until they’re comfortable with the needles and yarn (two needles + yarn = three hands?) many aren’t ready to consider using their left hand this way.  That’s the fun of teaching: sharing what you know and watching someone have that “Aha!” moment. Many of the volunteers that were there have taught a lot of people and I felt that I learned as much from watching other people teach as I taught to the novice knitters who came my way.
Lessons would continue until people felt comfortable with what they were doing and were ready to move on. They would try to surrender the yarn and needles, only to be given bags to carry them home in so they could continue practicing. Everyone left happy with their kits of needles, yarn, and information about yarn shops in the area and websites where they could find more help. Hopefully we’ve hooked a few more into the fiber arts. 

As I wandered around after my teaching stint was over I found the Burda sewing booth. I must confess I had a traumatic experience in middle school home economics and I’ve been intimidated by sewing machines ever since. Both of my incredibly skilled grandmothers, as well as my grandfather, a tailor, would turn over in their graves to know the sad neglect my sewing machine endures. So I decided that if ever there was an opportunity to face that fear, this was it. Mere feet away from where I sat at the machine, people were riding on the Jet Ponies. Suddenly, a sewing machine didn’t seem so scary.

I picked out some fabric and ribbon, a kind volunteer reminded me how to operate the basic controls of a sewing machine, and I made myself a little project bag! Isn’t it pretty? I feel empowered to tackle the machine I have at home, since this one didn’t yell at me or sew the seams crooked or bite my fingers. I think I’ll take another look at the Anna magazines I have and see what small projects I might start off with. 

As I continued my wanderings, I encountered my first ever Yarn Bomb in the wool! I took some pictures and went in closer to meet, finally, Robyn Love. She's a Queens-based fiber artist and Yarn Bomber that people in my community have been telling me for some time I should meet. What a wonderful way to finally connect with her! The knit and crochet squares were sewn together and placed on the Gemini-Titan missile in Rocket Park, appearing from a distance as if they were flames from the jets. Robyn was inviting passers-by to attach a “message to the universe” onto the squares which would metaphorically blast off and carry the messages into the beyond. It reminded me of the Tibetan prayer flags that carry blessings on the wind to the countryside. It was a beautiful Yarn Bomb,thanks Robyn, next time you need help with some Yarn Bomb knitting, let me know!